Old book leads to new lese majeste charge

1 09 2013

Just revealed at Facebook by Andrew MacGregor Marshall, a new lese majeste case, apparently now underway in Bangkok.

Marshall produces a name-redacted PDF of the prosecutions charge sheet that can be downloaded here (6 pages). Remarkably, this case in 2013 apparently refers to a sale of The Devil’s Discus, a book printed in 1964, and translated into Thai and circulated in various forms over many years in some libraries and passed from hand to hand by interested readers.Devils Discus

The Devil’s Discus, authored by Rayne Kruger, on the still unexplained death of King Ananda Mahidol is not readily available. Nor is the Thai-language version กงจักรปีศาจหลัง, but see commentary here. There’s also a long discussion at New Mandala from 2008.

It seems the unfortunate bookseller currently charged sold a copy of the book or distributed a copy of what we assume was the Thai translation. However, we are somewhat confused by the quotes in the translation, which are from the English version. Perhaps Marshall’s translators simply cut-and pasted from that version.

What follows is the unofficial translation of the charge, provided by Marshall, which includes inaccurate information put forward by the prosecutor such as quoting a theory that the present king shot his brother by accident or intentionally; in fact, Kruger rejected this possibility in favor of suicide.

At the time the wrongdoing in this case took place, and at present, Thailand is a democratic country with a king of the Chakri dynasty as the Head of State, and His Majesty King Bhumibol … is the current king, Rama IX. According to the Thai Constitution of 2007, Article 2, “Thailand adopts a democratic form of government with the King as Head of State”, and Article 8, “The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated.”

On May 2, 2006 after midnight, the defendant immorally dared to distribute the book entitled The Devil’s Discus, which has messages/information defaming/violating King Bhumibol….

Some passages in of The Devil’s Discus are as follows:

1. The accident theory has been shown to be almost worthless, but this has been on the assumption that Ananda was alone when he died. However, the fact that the boys always played with their guns together, and the less well-known fact that the high-spirited Bhoomipol sometimes playfully pointed a gun at Ananda who sternly told him not to, has given rise to a far more persuasive theory, which continues to be held by most Westerners.

2. It is that Bhoomipol visited the sick Ananda and while they were playing with the .45 he accidentally fired it. No one ever gave more authority to this idea than Bhoomipol himself, by his extraordinary change from gaiety throughout his seventeen years preceding Ananda‟s death to unsmiling gravity in the following fourteen.

3. Before the fatal shot, the Royal Nanny and Bhoomipol were in and out of the playroom and Bhoomipol’s bedroom at the same time. She was in the bedroom putting away movie films when she heard the shot and rushed out, while Bhoomipol said he heard not a shot but a shout which drew him from the playroom. This difference is as odd as their lack of reference to each other in their respective testimonies; indeed Bhoomipol even said he saw no one. Moreover he said the shout drew him out to the front porch where, directly along the front corridor to Ananda‟s study, he met the lady-in-waiting. If indeed the study door was for some reason left unlocked, it is theoretically possible for him to have gone this way to Ananda, and after the accident run out by the same door, unremarked by the two pages in the back corridor outside the dressing-room but encountering the lady-in-waiting.

4. These facts may mean that Bhoomipol got the pistol out as he stood next to his brother‟s bed, playfully pointed it, accidentally fired it, and after an instant of stupefied horror let it drop and ran out: the pistol could then have been where it was found. Now however unfavourable all this is to Bhoomipol, how much more so does it become if the theory were not one of accident but murder. The notion that he visited Ananda then tends to indicate sinister intent, else he would have used the dressing-room entrance where the two pages were stationed (to his knowledge, since he had spoken to them there). A clear motive can be presumed, the ambition to be King.

5. Add the unreliability of his testimony in that he said he never heard the shot though the Royal Nanny did, that he never saw anyone though he could hardly have missed seeing the Nanny if he was where he said he was, and that he never noticed where Ananda‟s right (that is, firing) arm was though everyone else did. Add, finally, his conversation that night with the Royal Physician, when besides asking him not to leave him he spoke in favour of the accident theory although he should have known that the .45‟s safety device, if not Ananda‟s habitual caution, rendered the theory highly improbable.

6. The resulting tally of suspicion is such that had Prince Bhoomipol been charged with regicide, and precisely the same reasoning and attitude been applied by the judges as they adopted in convicting the three accused, he must certainly have been condemned. But strip it down and what are we left with but faint shadows and surmise. The same simple reason that makes the impartial observer reject the case against them must also acquit Bhoomipol: there is absolutely no evidential link between him and the shooting.


Whoever reads the aforementioned passages would be led to understand that King Rama IX was involved in causing of the death of King Rama VIII, either by accident or intentionally. Therefore such statements represent defamation of the King to a third person, in a manner that discredits and creates hatred for the King.



2 responses

18 02 2014
Lese majeste and the need for secrecy | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Public Prosecutor claims “there are six sections in the book which constitute lèse majesté. The six sections are the author’s presentation of “theories” about the cause of the king’s death which […]

18 02 2014
Lese majeste and the need for secrecy | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Public Prosecutor claims “there are six sections in the book which constitute lèse majesté. The six sections are the author’s presentation of “theories” about the cause of the king’s death which […]